The BMW i3
Patrick Rall's picture

The BMW i3 introduces sensibility to the i-series lineup in LA

The BMW i8 is pure awesomeness but in all reality, the majority of those looking to buy electric vehicles are more concerned with range than they are concerned with having 569 horsepower so for the sensible electric luxury city car buyer, the 2011 LA Auto Show holds the key in the form of the new BMW i3.

The BMW i3 features an all-electric drivetrain with the liquid cooled lithium ion batteries mounted under the floor of the interior compartment powering the engine that is mounted just above the rear drive wheels. This compact electric motor sends 170 horsepower and 184lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels which allows the compact i3 to dash from 0-60 in under 8 seconds while also being able to achieve a (governed) top speed of 93 miles per hour. Most importantly, the lightweight construction of the BMW i3 allows this electric drivetrain to travel 80-100 miles depending on temperature and topography…although once we get closer to the public debut of the i3 we will likely get an exact number from the company and the EPA.

The battery system of the BMW i8 can charge by being plugged into a standard wall socket in just 6 hours but with the BMW high speed charging system, the i3 can charge from dead to 80% in just one hour. BMW also plans to introduce a range-extending gasoline engine in the near future although no exact date has been given for those plans.

On the outside, the BMW i3 looks a great deal like a more compact BMW x3 with a futuristic body kit. In the front, there is a set of super bright high tech headlights and the familiar dual kidney grille openings. Along the side, the I8 features a similar see-through design to the doors although the gullwing design of the i8 is left behind in favor of a more production friendly design, although the rear “suicide” style doors add a little taste of concept creativity. Out back, the BMW i3 wears a set of LED taillights similar to those seen on the i8 with a massive glass liftgate offering plenty of rear visibility. The BMW i3 looks great on the outside but the big design news is what is found under this sexy silver, black and blue skin.

Due to the design of the drivetrain, with the batteries mounted under the floor and the compact electric engine mounted directly over the rear drive wheels, there is tons of interior room in the BMW i3. The thin, lightweight seats offer seating for four adults with plenty of leg and head room while the cargo area behind the second row of seats offers as much room as most compact SUVs with a fully flat floor for easy loading. The seats offer the comfort of contemporary bucket seats but the design is more like that of a bench seat, allowing for extra room in the front and rear passenger areas. Finally, the driver’s area features a cockpit design with the controls wrapped around the driver’s seat, with a clean, minimalistic layout to the dash.

Check out the gallery on the right of the new BMW i3 Concept and stay tuned to for all of your 2011 LA Auto Show coverage!

Other LA Auto Show News:
The BMW i8 introduces LA to the electric hybrid supercar
Powerful and sporty Jaguar XKR-S Convertible debuts at the LA Auto Show
Details Show 2013 Infiniti JX Big in Lots of Ways Except One Important Area
CODA Automotive touts 150 mile EV range at 2011 LA Auto Show
Details Announced on 2012 Hyundai Azera at Los Angeles Auto Show
The 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth arrives at the 2011 LA Auto Show with 160hp

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